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South Arlington Bear Statues Moved Inside to Avoid Grizzly Fate

South Arlington bear statues, now indoors, courtesy Arlington County

Curious Arlingtonians want to know: what happened to the bears at Thomas Jefferson Park?

In 2017 a set of bear figures were carved into a tree stump during that summer’s Arlington County Fair, a local told ARLnow on Twitter. But the following summer, they were gone, with only saw dust and the bottom of the stump left behind.

At the time, residents near the park were told by Arlington’s Dept. Parks and Recreation that the bears needed to be taken in for restoration work. But some have not forgotten their ursine decorations, which have not returned to the park since.

At the time, the county said the carving had a crack that could result in the wood rotting if exposed to rain or snow. The bears were brought inside for treatment. Now, the county says the bears have found a new permanent home.

“Mama bear and her cubs are happily residing in the Park Operations lobby at the Trades Center,” said Susan Kalish, spokeswoman for the parks department, referencing the county facility near Shirlington.

According to Kalish, the parks department determined it was more prudent for the bears to be indoors, repurposed as domesticated statues.

“As their wood was not treated to protect them from the elements, they are safer inside,” Kalish said.

It’s unclear whether that explanation will make the loss more bearable for local residents.

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